Amateur Footage: A Global Study of User-Generated Content


Marina Petrillo, editor-in-chief of Radio Popolare in Italy, has publicly used an analogy comparing UGC to wallets that journalists pick up off the ground. They take out the contents without even bothering to look for a name inside, she infers. Those journalists who work with UGC every day would argue that they certainly don’t behave in this way. But one digital editor did describe the mindset many journalists have, saying, “I think people tend to see it as, not ‘How can I nick it?’ but ‘How can I use that on my [television news bulletin or website]?’ without actually thinking, ‘How do we use it in a collaborative way?”’ The current method of journalists seeking permission via messages on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram is laborious, legally dubious, and can be stressful for people who are caught up in the middle of a breaking news event. There are ideas circulating about embedding a breaking news license into social networks so that if users opt in their content can be used for free by news organizations for 24 hours.29documentaries, or within archives would require

specific permission from the uploader. In addition, if organizations wanted to syndicate the content, they would need to establish a separate agreement with the uploader. There also appears to be a need for clearer guidance around different copyright laws globally, as well as a better understanding of the legal implications of embedding content without seeking explicit permission. The news landscape is changing. There are growing numbers of licensing agencies, more uploaders demanding payment for their content, and increasingly blurred distinctions between citizen and accidental journalists. As a result the industry needs more guidance, both in terms of legal advice and ethical standards. Without these, many journalists feel that social newsgathering is wild territory.